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Phoenix USA
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JDT 112
Lili Chookasian, contralto
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Richard Yardumian Armenian Suite
Symphony No. 2 (Psalms)
The Utah Symphony Orchestra
Armenian Suite
Varujan Kojian, conductor Symphony No. 2 (Psalms)
Lili Chookasian, contralto  

For those who don't know Richard Yardumian's music, he was a composer of Armenian ancestry, long resident in Philadelphia. Those who like the music of Alan Hovhaness will probably be attracted here, though the music is somewhat more straightforward and less exotic than that of Hovhaness.
"The Armenian Suite", as you might expect, is based heavily on Armenian folk themes. It is great fun to listen to it. The symphony began life as a single-movement setting of Psalm 130. It later grew to include a second movement with this text being written specifically for Lili Chookasian.

This CD is a reissue of Varese Sarabande 704130, reviewed by John Ditsky in Fanfare 7:5. His comments give extensive background to previous recordings, none now available, which I won't repeat.

This is the only recording of the 1981 revision of the symphony, so there hasn't been any competition in that respect. The complaint that Ditsky had about pressing quality doesn't apply here and his questions regarding balance (he said that the orchestra drowned Chookasian) seem to have improved, for I am satisfied on that score. Kojian gives a sympathetic reading of both works. Chookasian is effective, but her voice was beginning to show some strains most notably in too much vibrato when under stress. The Varese Sarabande recording seems to be clean and well balanced. The notes and texts are, I suspect, reprinted from the original. Recommended.

John Bauman, Fanfare Magazine

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